Vocabulary Intervention Strategies to Use Right Now

You have a student with weak vocabulary skills. You know you need to address this skill with them, but how? Where do you start? Vocabulary intervention can be tricky if you want to do it right. Memorizing a bunch of words won’t do if you want your student to really learn new words. Instead, you have to use vocabulary intervention strategies that include opportunities for your student to build semantic connections, learn about word relationships, and learn to use vocabulary strategies for understanding new and unfamiliar words.

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Word Associations

When addressing vocabulary, it is so important to make sure that your student can connect words. Which words go together? Shoes and socks, couch and chair, apple and banana…there are so many ways we can put words together. When assessing vocabulary, I recommend starting with picture matching. Can your student match pictures of nouns that go together? Look at associations based on item use, category, or features. When using associations to develop vocabulary, I like to use a categories and vocabulary resource I created. This resource is great for sorting, matching, and telling how words go together.

Describing & Defining

Vocabulary intervention should also help your student develop a deeper understanding for words. This can be done through describing and defining. When working on this skill, I love using the Expanding Expression Tool (EET). There are many variations of this available on the market, but the EET is by far my favorite. No matter what you use, I highly recommend providing visuals to help your students as they form their descriptions. Visuals can be faded as describing skills improve.

Synonyms & Antonyms

Another way to help your student build their semantic connections is through synonyms and antonyms. Teach your student how words mean the same thing and how they are different. But be careful that you are not simply giving them words to memorize. When I teach synonyms and antonyms, I make sure to use pictures, sentences, and analogies. The ultimate goal is that the student really understands how the words are connected and how they can be used in context. I have a resource that I developed to help with this. My synonyms and antonyms resource provides everything you need to get started teaching synonyms and antonyms.

Multiple Meaning Words

Multiple meaning words can be a fun way to work on vocabulary skills. I especially love teaching multiple meaning words in the context of humor. There are so many jokes and riddles that rely heavily on the understanding of multiple meaning words to “get” the humor. This can also be a great way to build engagement and help your student have fun while learning. 

Vocabulary Strategies in Context

One thing to keep in mind for vocabulary intervention is that you cannot teach your student every word they do not know. That’s why it’s so important to also teach them strategies for figuring out unknown words. Using context clues is a great way to help determine what an unknown word might mean. I also like to teach my students common prefixes and suffixes that may help them when they encounter a word they are unfamiliar with. I have some helpful prefix and suffix resources you can use to help teach this skill. Prefixes and Suffixes Set 1 and Prefixes and Suffixes Set 2 are available in the KI Speech Community Membership. 

Vocabulary intervention can be such a broad area to cover. It is important to have a clear action plan with specific areas to address. These strategies are a great way to set your students up for success.

Here are some files you can use for teaching vocabulary strategies:

Click HERE to read my tips for teaching WH- questions


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